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Pulp Fashion at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco

Signage for the Pulp Fashion exhibit

A few weeks ago, TLo posted an entry about the Pulp Fashion exhibit.  (Check out the post, the images are gorgeous.) When I read that the exhibit was at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco and it was exhibiting now, I invited my friend Kyle to come with. Kyle is an instructor at FIDM and a clothing designer as well. Having a professional’s clothing maker’s perspective made this exhibit more informative. Seeing her reaction to the skill and technique of artist Isabelle de Borchagrave made it more impressive.

All the costumes are made of paper.

From the Legion’s website:

Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave is a painter by training, but textile and costume are her muses. Working in collaboration with leading costume historians and young fashion designers, de Borchgrave crafts a world of splendor from the simplest rag paper. Painting and manipulating the paper, she forms trompe l’oeil masterpieces of elaborate dresses inspired by rich depictions in early European painting or by iconic costumes in museum collections around the world.  The Legion of Honor is the first American museum to dedicate an entire exhibition to the work of Isabelle de Borchgrave, although her creations have been widely displayed in Europe.

Dress in white illustrating changing fashion

I snapped a couple of photos then was gently reprimanded by the guard. (Embarrassed to notice the “no photography” signs posted liberally at eye level.) Everything is unbelievably made of paper. Sheer lace is made with a fine gossamer.  Huge gemstones and filigree settings. Corset laces and grommets. All of paper.

I had the overwhelming need to touch everything–something. It was like having an OCD moment where you just need to turn the bottle so the label is parallel to the back wall.  The first room featured costumes, all in white. de Borchgrave created this collection to emphasize the “fluctuation of the fashionable silhouette.” The costumes flowed from era to era. You really could see the evolution of European dress without the distraction of color and pattern.

The amazing thing is that you forget that the outfits are completely constructed of paper. Kyle marvelled that the draping was impeccable–the dresses draped on the floor like cloth does. Between the recreations of Renaissance costume (there are no surviving Renaissance costumes in existence), the “wink at history” featuring iconic looks by Coco Chanel and Christian Dior, and the Bedouin exhibition tent of Madriano Fortuny of the 1911 Exposition des Arts Decoratifs; it’s a heady display of fascinating beauty that, frankly, overloaded my senses. My suggestion is to take all day to view this exhibit. Take a lunch break and have a picnic on the lawn. You’ll be able to take in more prettiness with a little respite in between.

Pulp Fashion
Legion of Honor
February 5, 2011 – June 5, 2011
$15 adults, $12 seniors 65+, $11 youth 6–17 and college students with ID, and free for children under 6 and members. They offer a public transportation discount with proof (Clipper card or timely transfer.)


Learn to surf like an Old Man

April 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Shekinah, my 9' longboard

Brah, this is junk,” he said squinting at the pure, white powder. Untouched, it lay in soft, smooth mounds, with the exception of a lone pair of ski mobile tracks. Woody lifted the mirrored sunglasses from his red, chapped face, revealing the white sunglasses-shaped tan line that every ski patroller sported.

Sixty-three days, brah,” he said simply, strapping into his skis.

Sixty-three days until what?” I asked, stamping into my snowboard.

Sixty-three days until you learn to surf, Nosebone,” Kai said, flicking the frozen septum piercing in my nose.

Sixty-three days later, I drove down a dirt road into San Onofre State Beach’s parking lot. Rock star parking lines the pavement, just a few steps from the beach.

San Onofre State Beach is technically within San Diego County but claimed by Orange County. It’s home to surfing legends Lorrin “Whitey” Harrison and Hobie Alter. San Onofre was also immortalized in the Beach Boy’s 1963 hit, “Surfin’ USA.”

Established in 1971 by Governor Ronald Reagan, San Onofre State Beach is separated into three areas: San Onofre Bluffs, San Mateo Campgrounds and San Onofre Surf Beach. Surf Beach has three distinct breaks: The Point, Old Man’s and Dogpatch. The windy bluffs, tidal wetlands and vegetation also keeps Surf Beach looking identical to what the missionaries saw 234 years ago. In 1776, Father Junipero Serra established Mission San Juan Capistrano spanning a smattering of coastal towns like San Clemente, San Onofre’s closest town. The beach is flanked by Pendelton Marine Corps Reserve and San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. These seemingly disturbing facilities have allowed San Onofre to remain undisturbed for twenty coastal miles without threat of commercialization.

I passed by open tailgates looking for Kai and Woody. Strangers nod, smile and shaka. The shaka is a Hawaiian/surfer greeting with the pinky and thumb extended. The hand is shaken to say “aloha.”

Hey, Nosebone! Ova heah,” I heard from between a dinged, lemon chiffon Volkswagen van and a white, lifted Hemi with two longboards in the back.

A picnic table groaned with the weight of trays loaded with kalua pork and macaroni salad. Mop-headed kids chased a Labrador wearing a neckerchief. My friends were in dripping boards shorts, their calves and biceps ringed in island art.

A pair of old men in flip flops and Hawaiian shirts played a ukelele and beat on a drum. The drummer belted out a rousing song in Hawaiian as three rows of men danced, bellowing refrains. The dancers were a mixed crew. Mostly seniors with silver hair and skin toasted for decades under the consistent California sun. A couple of kindergartners and their dads urging them along, “You know this dance, son.”

Old Man’s is called that for a reason. Easy consistent waves lets the old-timers ride their heavy, vintage balsa boards. It also provides a great classroom for teaching the grandkids to catch their first wave.

Nosebone, this is Pretty Boy Pete, he’s gonna teach you to ride today,” Kai said pointing a beer bottle at a man with roasted brown skin and sun bleached, saltwater tousled hair. Pretty boy indeed. He flashed an even, white smile and shook my hand.

You ever surf?” I shook my head. “No worries, yeah?”

No worries.” We walked over to a small clearing in the sand, a no-fly zone even Hoku (the lab) didn’t bound into. Pretty Boy Pete sat me down in front of a surfboard.

Catch,” he said, tossing something. I caught it. It’s a credit card.

Scrape.” He knelt across from me and began to scrape the old wax from the board with another card. “We’re gonna scrape the old wax and apply some new. Wax off, wax on yeah?” he winked. “That way you get to know the board better.”

Once the grimy grey wax was scraped off like filings, he handed me a white bar of wax. The wax rubbed sticky bumps onto the board’s surface, hence the name StickyBumps. The warm smell of vanilla surrounded me and I started to feel like a surfer.

Surfing originated in the Polynesian Islands. As early as the 15th century, the people were known to enjoy he’e nalu (ancient Hawaiian for “wave sliding”). The sport was perfected in Hawai’i, with the ali’i (royalty and higher classes) establishing board shapers, prayers and special wood to be used in surfboards. Only the koa, ‘ulu and the wiliwili trees were allowed to be used for surfboards. Before construction, sacred rituals were performed to honor the tree’s offering. Ancient Hawaiians used four kinds of boards: the paipo (PA-ee-po), a 2-4′ body board, the omo (O-mo), an 8-12′ mid-sized board and the kiko`o (key-KOH-o), a 12-18′ board. The olo (OH-lo) was reserved for royalty and was 18-24′ long.

Nowadays, you can buy a good, factory made board. A hand-crafted surfboard is still sought out for stellar performance. The board I used was hand-shaped by legendary shaper, Dean Cleary. Cleary began shaping surfboards forty years ago in a shed on Sixth Street in Huntington Beach. He’s currently one of the few noted Americans who specialize in kneeboards. Most hand shapers custom make your board, working with your skill level, physical attributes and desires to make a board that becomes a part of you.

Now, we’re gonna pop-up and paddle.” Still on land, not even close enough to feel the spray of the ocean, Pete had me pantomime paddling out, pushing up quickly to a standing position and feeling like a big dork.

Good job,” he smiled. “Okay, some rules, then we ride. If you can’t follow the rules, you don’t need to surf, girl.” He listed each rule on his fingers peppered with words like “inside,” “break,” “peak” and “curl.”

  1. Don’t surf alone: Even expert surfers have been known to crack their head open.
  2. Give right of way: The person closest to the upcoming wave gets to ride it.
  3. Don’t drop in or snake a wave: No snaking around someone or jumping in front of them to steal the wave.
  4. Paddle behind: Don’t cut across someone riding a wave.
  5. Hang on to your board: Sometimes, it’s easier to let go and duck under. Don’t. You might injure someone.

We waded out to knee high. The water is icy but the warm sun soon negates the chill. Pete placed the longboard on the water. I strapped the leash to my ankle and lied on it, paddle position. Then he lied on top of the bottom half of my body. I looked back, stunned.

Paddle,” commanded Pretty Boy Pete as if using a stranger’s tush as a pillow is an ordinary experience.

I paddled towards the horizon. Pete shouted instructions and advice. “Paddle through the wave if it’s too big to crest.” My arms burned from the exercise. Pete stopped us and slid off. I sat up and straddled the board, the wax comfortingly warm under my thighs. I looked back and saw that we were only 10 yards from the shore. Pete stood in the neck-high water. He pointed to various landmarks so I can get my bearings. He showed me how to join a line-up though we were far from the motley line-up of leather-skinned longboarders, tow-headed kids and even dogs curled up on the nose of a couple of boards.

You can take this one!” he said, perking up. “Turn around!” I thrashed, managing to point the board toward the shore. I saw a small wave beginning to form a few yards behind me. “Paddle!”

I began to paddle. “Paddle, paddle, paddle, paddle!” I paddle as if sharks were trying to eat me. “Stand up!” I heard him yell as the swell lifted my surfboard. I popped up like I practiced on the beach. … And launched myself off the side of the board. I belly flopped into the salt water. The board tugged to reclaim me.

How you?” Pete asked slipping into pidgin. “You wanna quit?” he asks looking at my face. ”Go have a beer. Chillax.”

I wanna do it again,” I said. A snowboarder’s maxim states that if you fall, do it again immediately or you’ll be too scared to try it ever again. I knew it applied here, too.

Alright,” he said, eyebrows raised and a smirk on his face. We paddled out, waited and caught the wave. He shouted directives. I popped-up, this time remembering my stance. The wave swelled and carried me. It felt like sliding across a highly polished floor in brand new socks but better. It felt like flying.


San Mateo Campgrounds

RV hookups, hot showers and a quick walk to the beach. Sleeps 8 per plot. Starts at $30-65 per night. Make reservations at Reserve America.

1-800-444-PARK (7275) or

Beachcomber Motel

Stunning ocean view and a great location. Sunday market for local flavor.

Summer rates: $175-375, studio or one-bedroom

Winter rates: $125-225, studio or one-bedroom

533 Avenida Victoria

San Clemente, CA 92672



Old Man’s tailgate party atmosphere encourages sharing food. If you bring shareable snacks, you’ll be sure to join the impromptu potlucks.

Pedro’s Tacos

A local favorite, there’s a reason their tag line is “world’s best tacos since 1986.” Cheap, tasty and filling, Pedro’s provides fuel for a good day of surfing.

Open 7 am – 10 pm daily

2313 S. El Camino Real, San Clemente 92672


Additional Information

San Onofre State Beach

Call park for hours.

$15 per vehicle. $35-60 per night if you camp on the campgrounds.


830 Cristianitos Road
San Clemente, CA 92672


Surfboard wax in various scents and temperature scales.

Dean Cleary Shaper

Forty years of hand-cfrated surfboards at a reasonable price.

8 things that make SFO my favorite US airport

April 11, 2011 Leave a comment


SFO International Terminal Main Hall (Nighttime so dark photo.)

I tend to love the smaller airports. The car-to-gate time for small airports tend to be under twenty minutes; the vibe is chill and the staff is friendly.
That said, nothing beats a large airport for spectacular people watching, good food and amenities. My favorite large airport in the US is San Francisco International Airport (SFO). It’s also my home base since 2007.
Touted as the “gateway to the Pacific,” SFO is one of the world’s 30 busiest airports. SFO opened in 1927. In 2003, the long-awaited Bay Area Rapid Transit expansion finally connected SFO to the BART line. (In the ’90s, we had to take BART, walk to a bus terminal then take a bus to SFO. Not fun.)

Enduring Designs of Josef Frank Exhibit

Artwork: Thoughtful, interesting exhibits are strategically placed in SFO. Connecting corridors house a spectacular model plane exhibit, waiting lounges house displays of Japanese tea accoutrements. You’ll often see people slow down to take in the pretty.
Where: Exhibit Location Map

Terminal 3 and International Terminal G Connector

Inter-terminal connector: Nothing sucks worse than having to go through security again. I love that you can get from the International Terminal G gates (G-gates for United and most Star Alliance airlines) to Terminal 3 via a post-security corridor (United and American domestic, Air Canada). It’s airy, bright and filled with art and benches.
Where: Between Gate 75 (Terminal 3) and Gucci (International Terminal G)

Perfect Emporio Rulli cappuchino

Emporio Rulli: Hands down the best coffee in SFO. It’s the one place I am guaranteed a cappuccino with stiff foam, no added milk and espresso with rich crema on top.

Where: International Terminal, pre-scurity, Main Hall Arrivals Lobby, Main Hall North Food Court (near Boarding Area G) and Main Hall South Food Court (near Boarding Area A)

Toiletries for sale at Freshen Up!

Freshen Up! & Baggage Storage: Long layover? Drop off your bags at baggage storage and take a quick shower at Freshen Up!

Where: International Terminal, Main Hall just past the escalators

Open 7 am- 11 pm

Standard shower $11 (20 minute shower includes soap and towel)

Deluxe shower $15 (30 minutes, includes shampoo, lotion, shower shoes, plush towel, upgraded soap and 20 minutes in a massage chair)
Discounts for flight crew.

Baggage storage prices vary but suitcases are about $10-20 per 24 hours.

BART Entrance

BART: The Bay Area Rapid Transit station is in the International Terminal. Take BART into the city or connect to Cal Trans. It’s perfect for getting to your hotel or just to get out of the airport for a few hours. SF is only 30 minutes away.

Where: International Terminal Main Hall just past the Berman Reflection Room

Roundtrip adult fare to Powell Station: $16.20

Berman Reflection Room

Berman Reflection Room: Next to the BART station, this tranquil space is perfect to get away from the hubbub. There is no eating, sleeping or talking on cell phones so you can be assured some quiet time contemplating planes taxiing silently by.

Where: International Terminal Main Hall

Buena Vista Cafe

The Buena Vista Cafe: If you didn’t get a chance to go to Buena Vista at the Fisherman’s Wharf, stop in and get a Irish coffee here. The atmosphere isn’t as divey and cool but the barkeeps are still old school and the drink is a classic. Food’s good. You can catch the game or people watch.

Where: Terminal 3, Boarding Area F near Gate 82, post-security

Making Tornadoes

Kids’ Spot:  It’s an interactive play station with weather related exhibits from the Exploratorium.  Plenty of space and activities for the kids to burn up some energy (as long as some douchebag isn’t standing in the middle of it having an obnoxiously loud phone conversation).

Where: Terminal 2, Boarding Area D near Gates 54A and 58B, post-security  and Terminal 3, Boarding Area F near Gate 87A, post-security

Top 5 Southern California surf spots for beginners

April 4, 2011 3 comments

Welcome to surfing!

Easy waves, chill locals and absent sea creatures make these spots ideal for kooks (beginning surfers).

Old Man’s at San Onofre State Beach, San Onofre: Low, slow-breaking peaks and paternal locals make Old Man’s at San Onofre Beach a perfect spot to learn to surf. There’s always someone on a ukelele starting an impromptu hula session.

The Vibe: Tailgate luau

Fees: $15 per vehicle. $35-60 per night if you camp on the campgrounds.

Call park for hours.


830 Cristianitos Road
San Clemente, CA

Bolsa Chica State Beach, Huntington Beach: You may find yourself fishing and hiking rather than learning to surf at Bolsa Chica. The hiking and biking trail follows along the Ecological Reserve and is a favorite with bird watchers. Soft, easy surf provides easy waves to learn on. Afterward, catch grunions (sardine-like fish found only in Southern Cal) with your bare hands.

The Vibe: Eco-friendly

Fees: $15 per vehicle. $35-60 per night if you camp on the campgrounds.

6am-10pm, daily


Pacific Coast Highway between Golden West Street and Warner Avenue

Huntington Beach, CA

Doheny State Beach, Dana Point: It’s won Orange County Register’s Peoples Choice for Best Camping Site 17 years in a row. The campground sells out 7 months ahead for summer so reserve early. The waves are a mellow 2-3 feet with stronger swells about 100 yards north for intermediate surfers. The kid-friendly vibe makes this the best place for your kid’s first wave.

The Vibe: Baby’s first wave

Fees: $15 per vehicle. $35-60 per night if you camp on the campgrounds.

6:00 am-10 pm, daily, year-round


25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive

Dana Point, CA

Mondos Beach, Ventura, CA: Consistent rolling waves and a sparse line-up during the week make Mondos an ideal spot for beginners, stand-up paddlers and longboarders trying to master toes on the nose. It does get crowded on the weekends but parking is free.

The Vibe: The get-along gang

Fees: none

The entrance to Mondos isn’t marked and getting there is word-of-mouth: Take 101 past Ventura, bear left through tunnel. Zero out the odometer when you exit the tunnel and go 3.4 miles. There will be a clearing between two rows of beach houses. That’s the entrance.

First Point at Surfrider Beach, Malibu: First, Second and Third Points are surf spots that are a combination of Malibu Lagoon and Surfrider Beaches. Getting to the Points is easier if you park at Surfrider. First Point’s waist high swells are ideal for beginners. It tends to be crowded but the guy next to you in line-up could be either a celebrity or a dolphin.

The Vibe: Down-to-earth famous

Fees: $3-10 per vehicle

310-457-9701 (surf report)

8am – sunset, daily

23050 Pacific Coast Highway

Malibu, CA

Additional Resources:

All state beach information can be found at

Make campground reservations at Reserve America.

1-800-444-PARK (7275) or has live surf cam, wave and water quality reports and more

The French Don’t Diet Plan

March 7, 2011 Leave a comment


Noodle restaurant in Tokyo, Japan

Since I’ve moved to the suburbs, no longer walk to the bodega for vegetables or walk three miles a day for a living, I’ve discovered that I consistently weigh more than I’ve ever weighed before.

Even shopping is a chore since nothing I put on looks right.  I am a bad dieter—I get hangry (hungry and angry) so when I discovered The French Don’t Diet Plan by Dr. Will Clower, I thought it might be a plan I could stick to.

I’ve been doing this plan for the last month and managed to lose five pounds and maintain it without exercise and eating full fat everything, real sugar and drinking wine.

At the same time, I stopped drinking caffeine—mostly because I wasn’t functional without it. That scared me so I thought I’d stop drinking it for a while. I will drink caffeinated drinks again but I wanted to lose the need to bolt down a cup first thing.

McCafe espresso in Buenos Aires, Argentina

The plan is relatively easy and relatively difficult. It’s really a matter of how you view dining. Dr. Chower has “10 simple steps to stay thin for life,” many based on the fact that most people outside of the US eat slow foods, smaller portions and take time to savor their meals.

Even fast food is smaller and fresher in Europe. (Barcelona, Spain)

I’ve listed the three that talked to me the most.

Forget Faux Foods

In my travels, I find that people eat and shop very differently from Americans. There are a lot more opportunities to buy fresh foods in smaller quantities.

In Toulon, France, my mother and I wandered through a daily outdoor market, marveling at the ability to buy an egg or two, a variety of vegetables and fresh breads. If you didn’t want to cook, there were numerous vendors selling seafood risottos, stews and salads.

fresh stews in Toulon, France

I loved Paris layovers so I could run over to the farmers market near the Eiffel Tower and smell the ocean off the fresh octopus and mussels from the seafood vendor. I could buy rotisserie chicken and vegetables for a late lunch later.

Fresh, local, seasonal veggies in Toulon, France

There isn’t much junk food outside the touristy areas—croissants are made with real butter and real chocolate. Even diet food is hard to come by—I had a hard time finding Splenda and non-fat milk anywhere outside of the United States. Fast food in other countries tend to be grilled meat or vegetables on a stick, or a papaya salad made to order at a street vendor in Bangkok.

Streetside vendors in Bangkok, Thailand make yummy meals to order

The book’s tenet is to not eat foods that had to be invented. Like the Breyer’s ice cream commercial with the kid trying to pronounce ingredients, if the ingredient isn’t a real food, I’m not eating it. Btw, chain restaurants chicken breast is closer to a chicken nugget than a chicken breast and inject their french fries with oil.

Choose Fabulous Foods

With that, eat real foods and foods with great flavor. How often do you find yourself eating a bag of chips or something long after you’re full or even interested in eating? If you stick a bag of chips or cookies in front of me, I will. I don’t even have a sweet tooth. The End of Overeating has a fascinating theory and studies about why that is. It’s kind of dry in a scientific way but fascinating nonetheless.

Kimchee pancake, bibimbap and a lot of spicy veggies in Seoul, Korea

The theory in the book is that the more you eat real foods, the more you enjoy eating. You savor the flavors and feel satiety faster with a variety of textures and flavors.

A nicely portioned and absolutely scrumptious muffin and latte at Manna House in Edinburgh, Scotland

I discovered this is pretty true. One day, I ordered a strawberry, walnut and bleu cheese salad with chicken breast and a strawberry vinaigrette. Beautiful salad. But after taking a bite, I could taste that the chicken wasn’t real—it was a ready-prep chicken and the walnuts were covered in sugar. Not candied. Just sugar-coated and melted.

Spend more time enjoying your meal

It takes Americans less than 20 minutes to eat a meal. It takes your body about 20 minutes to register that it’s full.

Crab appetizer in Tokyo, Japan

My sister went to visit a friend in France some time ago. She arrived into town just before dinner, dead tired. They opted to have a quick dinner, but her French friend warned, “They’re going to think we didn’t like the meal.” Forty-five minutes later, as they attempted to leave, the restaurant staffed inquired whether the food was acceptable. It was delicious but the staff couldn’t believe there was no problem with the meal—after all, it took them less than an hour to eat! The French typically linger over dinner, spending about two hours on a meal.

Dinner spread at Atakawa Onsen near Tokyo, Japan.

They don’t shovel food in the entire time. They chat and enjoy the food’s visual, odor and sensations.

Breakfast at the hot springs in Japan

Meals often come in smaller portions and in courses. I find that I enjoy meals that offer lots of choices like Korean banchan, Spanish tapas and Japanese izakayas.

I realized that when I put my fork down between bites, took smaller bites and took twenty minutes to eat, I ate far less than I normally would without even trying. I’d just be  happily full. An unexpected bonus was that I don’t get hangry anymore. I get hungry but it comes in mild waves.

Pastry shop in Osaka, Japan

Personally, this style of eating makes sense to me and has been key to getting me to fit my jeans comfortably again. I do need to  exercise more and work on curbing the emotional eating.

I’ll continue with this style of eating, incorporating good meal choices, not eating poisonous sugar substitutes or in front of the TV computer. I’m hoping that I can continue it once I go back to work in May and not give into bolting down my food between call bells.

Mastering time management with Toggl

March 3, 2011 5 comments

You're gonna get used to clicking this.

I drive 70 mph.* It takes me thirty minutes to eat a meal. I still send postcards and the occasional letter. Now that I’ve slowed my roll, I’m finding that I need to speed up—in writing.

It  just shouldn’t take an entire day to write a blog post. Especially when my favorite blog pounds out an average of 8 well-written, engaging and insightful posts a day.

So between wanting to figure out how long specific posts take, wanting to accurately determine time spent on projects and wondering whether I spend far too much time commenting on Facebook, I found a little tool to track time.

From their website: Toggl is an online time tracking tool. It features 1-click time tracking and helps you see where your time goes. Free and paid versions are available.

I’ve been using the free version for about a month. It’s fricking awesome. You can access your time tracker in three ways:

  • online
  • desktop app
  • phone app (Available for iPhone and Android phones. No wi-fi needed.)

I love it because I can record time spent on every task and client. There’s a tool called Autopilot that nags you to work. It learns what desktop applications are associated with what projects. At first, it asks you what you’re working on like a two-year-old asks, “Why?”  Then it calms down and starts asking if it should turn off the timer when you’re liking everything on Facebook.

The free version is awesome: you get time tracking, projects, 5 users and a weekly time report. The weekly report is proof to the 80/20 rule.

The paid versions range from the Solo account at $5/month for one user to the Max at $79/month and 40 users. With the paid plans, you can track your earnings and mark projects/tasks as billable.  You also get a task planner and ability to integrate with Basecamp, RSS and iCal.

My biggest issue with Toggl is that I forget to start it sometimes. That can be remedied by the ability to add time into your tracker. I don’t but am getting better at recording my time.

I’ve discovered that it takes less time to do copy writing related writing than thought (2-4 hours). The 24 Hours in blog posts are the most time-intensive (8-10 hours). My current project is a whopper of a time commitment.

There are a number of time trackers out there. Let me know if you are keen on any. For now, I love Toggl.



3 tips to painless business tax record organization

February 28, 2011 1 comment

Photo Credit: "Money" by mushanga via stock.xchng

I did my taxes today. It didn’t take me all day. I only ate three pieces of Dove dark chocolate squares. I drank no booze or caffeine. I’m pretty proud of myself.

Since I get royalties on freelance writing and work as a flight attendant, I can’t just download the TurboTax app on my phone and file in five minutes or less.

I use TurboTax Home & Business (though I will need to get an accountant next year). Either way, throwing receipts in a box marked “Business” is no good for those of us with goldfish memory. It’s also no way to enamor yourself to an accountant who doesn’t get paid enough to deal with your bullshit filing system. So, here are my top three tips for beginning freelancers.

1. Charitable Contributions

I love It’s Deductible Online for logging in charitable contributions. When I’m purging my closet, I write down what I’m donating on a sheet of paper. When you get a receipt from Goodwill, the library or the food drive, staple that list to it. You can log in your donations. It’s great because I tend to underestimate my donations and the form tallies your contributions. You can also see how much you’ve donated every year.

2. Travel, Meals & Entertainment

I’ve started traveling with an envelope I mark with the trip’s name. I throw every receipt I gather into this envelope. I try to mark the receipts with reminders. Once home, I can tag my entries in Quicken. You can tag your entries in, too. Generally, I don’t touch them until tax time. (Gotta change that habit.) Obviously, I don’t log stuff in an expense report. (Gotta change that too.)  If anyone knows of a good Android app for easy logging, let me know.

3. Web Transactions

This is probably the biggest headache—remembering everything you bought online. Hotel reservations, pledges to friends’ charity walks, professional memberships, international phone charges. Old school me prints them out and files them appropriately ( 6 months later). You can attach electronic receipts to your financial records in Quicken. This isn’t available at yet so you can put a folder called “Receipts 2011” on your desktop or tag the confirmation email.

These three things have streamlined my tax prep. I also didn’t dread doing it so much this year.  If you have any other tips, strategies or tools, put them in the comments section.

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